Exploring the Richness and Bombast of XOTOX Music

Andreas Davids (XOTOX) says:

I’ve developed my music by incorporating additional sounds and layers

I’m not really into the whole mixing thing

When you listen to my new album, everything from the pandemic is there

Most of the work takes place within the computer, using digital effects and instruments

XOTOX is the EBM/industrial/power noise solo project of German musician Andreas Davids.
In this exclusive interview for ‘The Electronic Corner’ we will discover, among other things, that even a small room can become the ‘laboratory’ of a successfull artist.

Sir Joe: What inspired the name Xotox?

XOTOX: Now I’m going to debunk the myth about the project name.
It’s very simple. I’m a devoted Front 242 fan and I own a reissue of Front to Front, I believe from either 1998 or 1997.
I was happy to learn that they were still active, since they had taken a break a few years before this particular release.
When I opened the box, I noticed some tiny text that stated how Front 242 is exclusively outfitted by Rotor. I simply swapped the ‘r’ with an ‘x’ due to this. That’s how XOTOX came to be.
A few years later, I discovered that there’s a brand in America called Xotox. They manufacture swimwear, t-shirts, and underwear, but I have nothing to do with it.
Moreover, in German Xotox has a very hard sound, so I decided to keep it.
SJ: How has your music evolved since you started in 1998?

XOTOX: A few weeks ago, I began revisiting my work because this year marks the 25th anniversary of the project.
I listened to my first album and, in German, we describe its sound as thin. It lacks complexity, consisting primarily of drums and bass. It’s not expansive.
Over time, I’ve developed my music by incorporating additional sounds and layers to create a richer and more bombastic sound.
So, initially it was minimal with just distortion, drums, and rhythm. But nowadays, I believe it includes more melody and additional layers.

SJ: Have you added some tools as well, or are you mostly using updated versions of the tools you started with?

XOTOX: It’s still just me, the computer, the digital audio workstation, and the sounds.
Back in the past, 25 years ago, I could not use software instruments, so I relied only on sounds and samples. Now, there are greater options available, like incorporating real instruments into your computer to create music.
But basically, as you said, I use newer versions of my old technology.

SJ: Let’s assume your distribution label Infacted Recordings tells you they need a song by the end of the day.
Would you be able to do it easily or, as a power noise/industrial music maker, you need to enter in a particular state of mind to compose a new track?


XOTOX: To be honest, I could do it, but it would probably be the worst track I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t be satisfied with it because it would have no substance, I would release it just to put my name on it.
I would do it for the label, of course, but…

SJ: But you might be recycling old material, and it would sound uninspired.
Now, how do you balance the elements of power noise, industrial, and EBM in your music?

XOTOX: I would say, it’s all in my head.
I’m not really into the whole mixing thing, so I just listen to it. If I think it’s good for me, then it’s good. If I feel it’s too loud or has too much distortion, I just lower it.
I do everything by ear, as I’m kind of an old-school guy. I listen, not really looking at frequencies or anything like that.

SJ: Has the the pandemic somehow affected your music creation process, or nothing really changed?

XOTOX: I was fortunate not to lose my job, allowing me to continue going to work. Music remains my hobby. However, after work, everything was so quiet and you had so much time. I was very productive, I must say. Ok, I have a young daughter to take care of with my wife, but after everything was done and our little one was in bed, I had some extra time.
You could do nothing and you could go nowhere. Staying at home was the only choice, so, what could we do? Create music!
Of course, there were challenges when kindergartens and schools closed and it was tough to balance childcare and work. But, those challenges inspired me to feel a deep sense of frustration, which I channeled into my music.
When you listen to my new album, everything from the pandemic is there. Sometimes, I felt intense anger due to the uncertainty and fear surrounding the future, and I had time to contemplate and incorporate these feelings into my music.
This, in a way, was the bright side of the pandemic.

SJ: When you think of a typical fan of XOTOX, how would you describe him/her?
I don’t mean physically, of course, but things like hobbies, attitude, normal state of mind and so on…

XOTOX: When I’m on stage and look at the audience, for instance, I see all those cyber girls dressed in various colors, dancing. I also see those old-school industrial fans, basically I see people of all ages.
So, a typical fan would need to share my inspirations, such as a love for horror movies or science fiction, like Star Trek, for instance.
I draw a lot of inspiration from these sources. And I believe that, at the very least, they enjoy the same movies as I do.
Anyone who listens to my music should be able to relate to these things and create their own movie in their mind while my music plays. Some just need a rhythm to dance to, while others have to ponder what I meant when I’m doing this.

SJ: What kind of equipment do you use in your studio for recording and mixing?

XOTOX: For recording, I have a MIDI keyboard for my audio workstation, along with a microphone soundbox.
I also have an Akai Sampler, a Unosynth, an Elmyra, which is a drone synthesizer, and some drum pads for live performances.
Most of the work, approximately 95%, takes place within the computer, using digital effects and instruments.
I incorporate extra sounds from the Elmyra, which I use to create noise that I subsequently edit. I cut it into pieces and create layers from it.
I like hardware, of course, but I don’t have much of it due to the limited space of this room.
In fact, you have to consider the expenditure and frequency of use. That’s why, if there is a digital version of something I like, I buy that.

SJ: Do you use field recordings for your sound design process?

XOTOX: I have equipment for field recordings and sometimes I take it with me on holiday and make some recordings. So far I haven’t used them yet, but I could.

SJ: Can you share any unique or unconventional technique that you use during the recording or postproduction process, if any.

XOTOX: I don’t know if it’s unique, but I like to edit my drums with the built in editor of Ableton Live. You simply use the mouse to point and click, for the bass drum and all the other drums.
I could continue doing this for hours and days, I really like it. There are simpler ways to create rhythms, but perhaps I’m a bit old-fashioned, and I simply prefer doing it this way.
It keeps looping for hours, and my wife gets crazy with the repeated sound.
After 1 or 2 hours, I’ll say, “Okay, that’s the right beat.” I’m not sure if I’ll use it, but I enjoy making beats the old-fashioned way.

(Now I invite you to watch the following video, starting at 15:58. We are given a chance to see where the magic of XOTOX music takes place).

We say thanks to Andreas Davids, aka XOTOX for the very nice interview.

Don’t forget to visit his official website

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